The Hyundai Tucson is one of South Africa's favourite SUVs, and the 2023 N-Line derivative is a treat to drive. We review the 2023 Hyundai Tucson N-Line.
The Tucson has come a long way in South Africa, morphing from an ordinary family-orientated SUV into a premium. It has evolved in leaps and bounds from a design and technological perspective, slowly becoming a household favourite for local consumers.
Hyundai launched the current generation Tucson in 2022, and it remains one of the Korean brand’s best-selling SUVs, alongside the Venue and Grand Creta, with the trio selling 950 units during September. Of that, 86 were Tucson models, and while that figure doesn’t seem eye-catching to some, consider that pricing for the Tucson starts from R584 500.
“We launched the all-new Tucson in South Africa last year but, as was common in the auto industry at the time, we experienced stock shortages due to global supply chain problems. This has been alleviated, and we can celebrate the much-improved availability of the new Tucson with the unveiling of this new flagship in the local range: the Tucson N Line,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
For customers that want the perfect balance between sporty styling and compact car frugality, there’s the flagship N-Line model. We got to experience the model and here’s what we thought:
N-Line styling – inside and out
The N-Line bodykit is just something else and really makes the Tucson stand out. It consists of a more aggressive front bumper, rear bumper and diffuser with a dual-pipe exhaust tip and super gorgeous 19-inch alloy wheels. The front grille is similar to that found on the Creta in that you don’t immediately see the front LED and daytime running lights because of the almost hidden design known as “parametric jewels”. Moving to the rear, the lights comprise a single unit with double fang-like shapes that look particularly cool at night. Crimson Red, Phantom Black, Titan Gray and White Cream are the available body colour options.
On the inside are N-branded sporty seats (heated and ventilated) with black suede and leather seat coverings, as well as red stitching. Red stitching is also woven on the door trim and armrest, while the grey cloth crash pad is garnished with red accents. Sections like the heated steering wheel and leather gear shift knob are all adorned with the N Logo. In short, passengers will know exactly which derivative they’re sitting in.
Getting into the car, the driver is greeted by a 10.25-inch open instrument cluster. The interior also features an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Connectivity features include a wireless charging pad in the centre console and front and rear USB ports.
As the flagship model, the N Line comes packed with a host of convenience, luxury and safety features like a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, a high-definition rear-view camera, Multi-Air Mode technology, Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Keep and Lane Follow Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill start Assist Control and power seats for the driver and passenger. There are also ISOFIX child seat attachments in the rear seats; as well as driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags.
It has a boot capacity of 539 litres behind the rear seats, which is slightly smaller than that of most of its rivals, but that’s not to say that it can’t accommodate a decent amount of luggage. This could quite possibly be the only blemish on the report card.
Under the N Line’s bonnet
The N-Line Tucson is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with outputs of 137kW and 416Nm. It is paired with an eight-speed automatic, and power is sent to the road with an HTRAC All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. Claimed fuel consumption is 6.5 litres per 100km, and in our time spent with the vehicle, we easily beat the claimed figure by averaging 6.2 litres with most of the driving done in Normal mode. Hats off to Hyundai for crafting such a fine specimen of a frugal engine because it is without fault.
Does it drive like a sports SUV?
It most certainly does. Hyundai tweaked the suspension to match the aggressive aesthetic, with the springs offering 5% more rigidity in the rear and 8% more in the front, along with software changes to adjust the steering. The latter is not an exaggeration because we put the SUV through its paces along some of Cape Town’s twistiest roads, where the steering was prompt and precise.
Switching to Sport mode adds a deeper tone to the exhaust note and better throttle response that also sends a greater proportion of the available torque to the rear wheels. Even in that mode, the fuel gauge takes some time before it begins to drop.
We were impressed by how smoothly the automatic gearbox transitioned between the gears, whether cruising on the highway or doing some spirited driving. Adding gear shift paddles would have been much better than the button-operated manual buttons on the right side of the gear selector. While the chassis weighs just over two tonnes, at no point during our stint with the car did it feel heavy or unstable.
What makes the Hyundai Tucson such an efficient option is the HTRAC AWD system, where customers can switch between terrain settings depending on the surface. Fortunately, we never had to navigate any snow, mud or sand conditions, but the dial is right there for ease of convenience to the driver. Hyundai did an excellent job in the cabin's layout, placing everything you may need within arm's length.
The Tucson will do battle against the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester.
Pricing and aftersales
2.0 Premium AT - R584 500
2.0 Executive AT - R639 500
2.0 Elite AT - R711 900
2.0 Elite AT Diesel - R779 900
Tucson N Line Diesel - R815 900
The range features Hyundai’s 7-year / 200 000km mechanical warranty (consisting of a comprehensive 5-year / 150 000km manufacturer's warranty, supplemented by an additional 2-year / 50 000km manufacturer's powertrain warranty) and a 6-year / 90 000km service plan (inclusive of 7-year / 150 000km roadside assistance).
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